Software can be protected by patent, copyright and trade secret law.
Patent law provides the strongest protect for software as it can protect the ideas underlying the program. Patents can protect operating system techniques, program language translation methods, program algorithms, editing functions and user-interface features provided such techniques, methods, functions and features are new, useful and non-obvious.
However, obtaining patent protection can be complicated and costly. Further, patent protection is granted on a country-by-country basis. Which means there is additional cost if your software needs to protected overseas.
Copyright law can be used to protect the source and object code of software as well as unique elements of the user interface. Copyright registration is not necessary, although there are some benefits to registration (which is a simple and inexpensive process).
However, copyright law is limited in that it will not protect the ideas underlying the software.
Trade secret law protects…
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